BUDGET supermarket operator Lidl cannot build a store off Huntingdon’s Stukeley Road – but that does not mean it is unwelcome, planners said on Tuesday.

For the second time in 10 years the German-owned chain has failed to get planning permission for a store just outside the town centre.

In 2000, it was turned down at the former Brookfield secondary modern school site on the ring road that is currently being developed by social landlord Luminus as an 'extra care' development for frail and vulnerable elderly people.

Then, on Monday evening this week, its application to open at a site near the former bus depot off Stukeley Road, beyond the Iron Bridge, was also refused by Huntingdonshire District Council's development management panel.

Although the application was supported by Huntingdon Town Council, the planners said Lidl has failed to show why the shop should not be in the town centre or that it would not adversely affect the town centre. They also described it as uninspiring and dominant, overshadowing a residential block and leading to an unreasonable level of disturbance.

The planners were also concerned about a walnut tree that is the subject of a tree preservation order.

But Andy Moffat, HDC's development manager, stressed after the decision: “We do have a need for a discount store in the town centre, either in the re-developed Chequers Court area or in Huntingdon West [the area between St John's Street and the railway into which HDC wants the town centre to expand over the next few years].

“We want to accommodate Lidl or another discount store, but we don't want to approve anything that would prejudice redevelopment of the town centre,” he told The Hunts Post.